Monday, September 9, 2013

Let's talk basic maintenance

I was lazy and did not grout the kitchen backsplash.  That will be done next weekend....I promise.

In the meantime, I thought this would be a great time to talk maintenance.  I find most move in to a new (or "used") house, hang the tv, place the couch, maybe paint a wall, and relax.  There are many small things you can do to ensure your house will last.  I will tell you what I do and you can comment on what you do or how you do it different.

Of course this list will cover what I do and what I plan to do.  I will note when it's something I plan to do.

  1. Water Heater - Most will tell you to drain fully once a year.  That's a bit of a chore as I did this in my last house.  When I moved in, I checked the water heater manual and it recommends draining one gallon a month.  This removes sediment extending the life of your water heater.  Draining a gallon is easy, just keep a hose and bucket handy.  
  2.  Furnace - change your filter.  Seriously, change it.  I buy the more expensive and change every 2-3 months.  I am amazed when I talk to people that have no idea this should be done.  Do you want your furnace to last longer then a few years?  change it!
  3. Caulk - This one could get a list of it's own.  It really isn't hard.  I have already re-caulked the edge of the counter (in kitchen), around the tub faucets, and around the tub surround.  It cracks, splits, etc...  It's not hard (but can be time consuming) to cut/pull out the old stuff and throw some new down.  If you don't know WHAT to buy, ask your local Home Depot.  Don't know HOW to do it, google it or youtube it.  I use painters tape and get a perfect edge.  But I can be anal like that.
  4. Tub drain - If your house is like mine, your tub has a little flippy disk that can be pushed "level" to stop the water.  I found it works great to catch my wife's hair.  I check that thing every couple days and pull out the hair that would otherwise head into the pipes and possibly create stoppages.  My daughter is not so diligent which is why a week back, I went at the drain with one of these  easily the best, and cheapest drain snake every home owner should have.  I managed to dig out her "hair turd".  Now I go in there every few days and check my damned self.  kids......hmmmpf
  5. Driveway - have you sealed it yet?  It really isn't hard.  It took a few hours to power wash (rent one if you need to), then I borrowed the neighbors pump sprayer (Because a friend of mine ruined mine!  friends......hmmmpf)  Time consuming, but easy.  Now I have a gratifying sheen on my drive way and I am ready for winter!.....kinda, I hate shoveling.  
  6. Deck stain - Do you have a wooded deck?  do you have plans to have it look nice longer then a couple years?  I suggest you get out there and get it stained/sealed.  It's a crappy chore, but the few hours you log maintaining your deck will be worth it.  I let me last deck go and it looked like a hairy dog's ass.  I did a bunch of research and found ReadySeal is the shit!  seriously, it's worth the shipping.  I have used other sealers and I get permanent drips.  ReadySeal is "goof proof".  
  7. Lawn - I find this can be very confusing.  What, when, how.......ugh.  I found this article to be the most help, the most detailed on when and what.  I have yet to find the SoilActivator.  But I am a chicken poop convert.  That stuff is great.  My back yard was seeded and has lots of weeds to deal with.  I am still using Scott's Yellow bag in the back.  The front gets Chicken poop.
  8. Lawn cont. - Do you aerate?  you could!  Myself and two neighbors split the cost of a rental aerater and have done it last fall and this last spring.  We have plans to do it again.  Ryan's landscapping sucked and the soil needs all the help it can get.  So for $20, I aerate.  Followed this year with re-seeding.

I am sure I am missing something, but this covers what I do or have done. 
Consider this, how much time have to dedicated to your favorite tv show versus time you spent on your house last month?  You got one house, take care of it.

carry on.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Back Splash of color

WARNING, I'm not done.  But I can't wait to post and I can always throw up another post with the finished results.

We finally got the Kitchen Back Splash tile up.

So you should know, a kitchen back splash, under cabinet lights, and nice sink/faucet were a requirement for me when buying a house.  See, I completely tore out and rebuilt my last kitchen.  When looking, I told my wife that I want a kitchen as nice or nicer then what I left.  I decided, to save money, I could do all three items myself.  Well, you move in, spend money, and things get pushed back....a year and half in this case. 
In our defense, a year back we found a mosaic tile we liked and proceeded to buy a sheet or two every pay day.  We missed some here and there, but we kept going until we had about 30 sheets saved up.  Then along the way, we got the pencil tile, grout, caulk, and seal.  So we managed to spread the cost over a year.  Not bad.

But HOW to do it?  For Ravenna owners, you totally understand the difficulty to figure out how to navigate the area around sink where the upper cabinet ends and the bar counter begins.  I found this image on pinterest a while back and it gave me some inspiration.
note: I did smaller tiles diagonally in the last kitchen....what a pain!
I liked how it wrapped around and down to the bar counter.  My wife wasn't sold on this one.  So I modified it a bit, added some pencil tile and think it worked great.

Our "Before" picture

my "at work" picture.

I had just finished putting up the pencil tile and took a pic

My solution for the area of concern.  Found a black pencil tile that we liked.  A few measured cuts on a tile saw and boom!  I used the pencil tile at the end of the counter as well.
So I still have to grout, caulk, and seal.  I will post some better, finished shots when done. 
All total, we spent about $325. 
Tile sheets were $5 each.  I believe we used 30 (12"x12"). 
4 sticks of pencil tile at $10 each.  I used 3. 
About $60 for seal, caulk, and grout. 
$35 for tile saw rental. 
$25 for the pre-mixed tile set
Bought a plastic v-notched trowel for $10-ish (can't remember as I bought months ago). 
I already had tape, painter's plastic. 

Next....under cabinet lights and sink/faucet. 
stay tuned kids

Monday, August 26, 2013

Ryan's Room

nope, this one is not about the builder Ryan; rather, my son.
You build and have all these grand ideas on what you want to do.  Some you act on pretty quick while others slip away in time.  My better half and I have wanted to give Ryan a cool room.  Something a 12year old will enjoy and also something that a future 16-17 year old would be good with as well.  Think to the future here people!  It took us a 1.5years, but we did it.

Please excuse the blurry photos, what do you want from a crappy phone camera!?
I don't have before pictures.  But it's not hard to imagine.  a bed and dresser in a flat paint "whole wheat" color.  bleh.

The blue chair and desk legs are from Ikea.  The desk top I cut and edged myself.  The magnetic board, magnets, and "towel bar thingy" are from ikea.  The curtain rod is galvanized pipe.

The hex shelves I built with 3/4 ply.  They were glued and then I added 1" brackets for both assembly reasons, but also because I thought it looked cooler.

The skateboards are held up with skateboard brackets we found at Ikea.

I cut Ryan's nickname out of sentra and attached with 3M poster strips.  The bedspread, again, purchased from Ikea.
The room was painted with Behr "lunar surface" gray (in satin). 
My wife wanted an orange stripe around the room.  While I have mastered the ability to paint stripe with no bleed, I was not looking forward to measuring, marking, taping, painting the stripe.  I came up with another idea.  What if we ripped (11.5") strips of 1/8" hard board, paint those orange and nail to wall with finish nails.  Way easier and keeps with the theme of his room.

Needless to say, Ryan loves his new room.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Driveway's SEAL of approval

I, at times, can procrastinate.

There, I said it.  whew, I feel better.

We moved in to the new house January 2012.  So it's been about 19 months!  wow.  My PM heavily encouraged us to seal the drive way as soon as possible.  Turns out "asap" was 19months.  Don't judge!

I bought the stuff I needed to seal the driveway late last year and then read the instructions that said the temps should not drop below 60degrees for 24 hours.  Did I say I bought it late?  yup, it was getting down to the 40's at night.  So I sat on the can.

Literally, we have sat on that huge 5 gallon bucket now for several months.  Sat on it, put drinks on it, books, phones, etc.....

Until this weekend!  This weekend I took back the driveway.  The snow, ice, and salt will not win this year.

I used this SealBest Concrete Sealer.  I bought it at Menard's, which by the way I believe is an awesome store!  I wish it was closer.

For those that want to seal your driveway (which should be everyone reading this), know that it was pretty easy.

First, I pressure washed.  It was rather therapeutic watching 19months of dirt get stripped away.
Second, I grabbed a 3" paint brush and brushed around the porch columns.
Third, I borrowed my neighbors pump sprayer.  This is a must!  Made the job go very fast 
With the nitty gritty paint brush work knocked out, I began to spray.  That 5 gallon bucket gave me enough to do two coats on my porch, walkway, driveway and sidewalk.

Now my concrete is pimp'n with a little sheen to it.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Trashcan Solution

Seriously, this could be the idea of the year!
Most of us building in a new neighborhood have various HOA restrictions and guidelines for trash can.  Some more extreme then others.  Ours is pretty laid back, by that I mean it states trash cans can not be visible except on trash day BUT since most of us in my 'hood have hilly yards many of us have it "hiding" somewhere in front.  Why?  Well you either leave the cans in your garage OR you develop an invisibility cloak and leave in the front.  I try the garage, but it gets real stinky this time of year.  I hate it being in front, looks ....wait for it....TRASHY!

Being that we recycle (I take the recycling myself to local drop off point....why pay for it?) we do not have a lot of trash.  In fact, our kitchen trash can uses the plastic bags we bring groceries home in. 

So what if I buy a barrel for $90, cut it (I have a jig at work from when I cut up barrels for a job) for holding a can and place it conveniently in front like decoration?  Place a large garbage bag in the can and when it gets full, tie it up and place it out front for trash pick up.

Genius!  who ever did this and posted on pinterest deserves a great trash salute!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Batteries, my arch nemesis!

nem·e·sis  (nm-ss)n. pl. nem·e·ses (-sz) 1. A source of harm or ruin

If you would rather skip the whining, let me sum this post up for you....
change out your back up batteries in your smoke alarms!!
Did you get that?
Why the large type you ask?  Well because I am driving home the point that laziness and/or cheapness may cost you sleep.
Two "mornings" ago, at 0400 (and having gone to bed late the night before) my bedroom smoke alarm decides NOW is the time to let me know the back up 9volt is dead.  How does it do this?  With a chirp every 60 seconds.  
"change it out you say", if I kept 9 volts, I would.  So once I kicked the dancing unicorns ridden by lucky leprechauns in fields of cotton candy dreams from my brain housing group and figured out what may be the cause of the incessant chirp I began to root through the house for a 9volt.  I have a lifetime supply of AA, but I have been reduced to scrounging through my son's toys for a 9volt.  I found one.....but it was dead as well.  
The chirping continues.
I know! I will swap it out with the basement.  5 minutes later, success!  except I can hear that damned chirping all the way into my bedroom creating a blockade to sleep and dreams of unicorns. 
Exasperated, my wife decided to halt my quest to just disconnect the alarm (or shoot it) and headed out to Walgreens.  Twenty minutes later, we had some new, expensive as shit, 9volt batteries.  
Crisis 0505.  
Back to bed for about 40 minutes before the day started.

Having lived in the house for 1.5years, I have every intention to mark and replace back up smoke alarm 9volt batteries every 12 long as cheapness doesn't take hold and I wait for the next one to chirp; I mean hell, them 9volts must be filled with rare diamonds to cost $15 for 4!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Lubing the Garage Door and Corn hole

Easy killers,
I didn't mean that this post was about lubing your corn hole!  sickos.
I merely am referencing two topics of this blog post.

First, and with no pictures; sorry, but I am pretty sure you don't need me to post pictures of the garage hinges!
Since the day we moved in, our garage door has sounded LOUD and horrible.  Specifically it squeeks, pops, and generally sounds like it's 100 years old.  The opener itself is quiet, but the door sounds like it's going through the grinder.  I mentioned it at the 10month inspection and I received the "you just need to lube it" speech.  I would have thought they would do that for me, but what do I know.  I knew I needed to do it, and I was tired of hearing it.  The catalyst for action was when I went into my friends garage for something and it was whisper quiet.  THAT'S IT, I'm doing something about this.
So off to Home Depot I go and purchase this...
WARNING, you can go back to garage doors and purchase "garage door lubricant" for twice the cost OR buy this shit!  I used to work with mechanics who swore by Blaster products.

I went home, watched a quick video on "how to lubricate a garage door" (thank you youtube for solving most of my questions).  The video was helpful, I suggest you watch it.
why did it help? well for starters he points out you should lube the TOP of the track versus the bottom like most suggest.

Out to the garage I go with my new can of Blaster in hand and get to spray'n.  It took about a half hour, but it did the trick.  Initially the result was better, but not perfect.  But as the days passed, and the lube worked it's way in, it got quieter and quieter.  Now I barely hear it and almost enjoy listening to it open and close.

Second, I made some cornhole boards.  My daughter asked me to make her boyfriend (and this one I like....he is a Marine) a set of cornhole boards.  He was just thinking I might paint a simple image for the Bengals, Reds, or USMC theme.  But I decided to run with it.  I designed the boards with his MOS and rank in mind.  Add that to the fact I work for a kick ass company that has kick ass printing abilities and voila.....kick ass USMC cornhole boards.
And if you don't know what cornhole is?  google it....I dare ya!  haha.....j/k it's become a pretty popular yard game.  Web search is a lot less shocking in the last ten years. 

that's all I got for now,
carry on

Monday, April 8, 2013

It was just too mulch

What do you do when you lack vision in respects to landscapping?
You dig out the year old mulch and lay sod!

All last year my wife and I debated on how to edge this huge mulch bed area.  Kids and dogs jump off the front porch and into the mulch, kicking it up on the concrete walk way.  They when I mow, it throws clippings into the mulch.  Add to that our lack of vision in figuring out what to plant in this huge area that will look nice without costing an arm and leg.  In a moment of lucid thought, I considered laying sod.  I ran the idea past my better half and she loved it.  One week later we knocked it out.
Next steps are to build a straight, few course stone wall separating the smaller mulch bed from the new sod.  Then plant a couple hydrangeas and call it done.

In hindsight, I wish I would have had sod put there when they did the front lawn. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Miter Saw station part 1

I so often show my projects at home.  I figured I would show one from work.  I am responsible for the (wood) shop at work.  For three years now, I have been using my Dewalt sliding compound miter saw on a collapsible Dewalt miter stand.  These stands work in a pinch, but I have a strong dislike for an everyday use. 
With some un-used metal cabinets, left over melamine and birch ply, and some purchased Poplar (Trim&Fence), I put this together.

I am not finished yet.  I decided to use the left 50" cabinet as a router table as well.  Last night I purchased T-Track that I will route and install in the table top.  This will allow my saw and left fence to move forward and backword with a quick release lever.  I will also have a piece that runs the length of the cabinet for add-on like feather boards, guides, etc....

When finished, I will have a highly useable miter station/router table for a fraction of the cost.

When this is done at work, I will have to start on one similar for home!

that is all
carry on

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

It's that time of year to review hints and tips when building

I want to re-visit a some of these as you would have to dig way back in my blog history to find these.  I will also add in some I have heard from others.

-Getting an island?  Add an outlet to both sides of it.  We got the standard one outlet and found a second one on the opposite side would be great for laptop charging cable, phone chargers, etc...
-Add a tube running from the attic to the basement.  I ran a 3/4" flexible smurf tube.  This allowed me to run an attic antenna to the basement.  My neighbors have a satellite dish on the roof with the coax strapped to the siding all the way down.  The tube would have saved them this.
-Running rear speakers?  I put in a low voltage electrical box in the family room on the TV wall with some smurf tube punching into the basement.  I put another on the opposite wall.  When I moved in, I just ran my speaker wire down to the basement, strapped it across and back up into the family room.  Perfect!
-TV over the fireplace?  Don't pay for Guardians pre-wire (it was quoted $500 for us).  Just run a PVC pipe from the side to where you want it above the fireplace.  When you install it, run a string and tape it off.  That way, after move in, you just tie the string off to the cables and pull.  Don't forget to get Ryan to put in an outlet.
-Hate stacking pots and pans?  check out the pull out shelves from Rev-a-Shelf.  We bought one from Lowes.  Easily the best damn thing in my kitchen.  I actually show it off to visitors.
-Under cabinet lighting?  Don't pay Ryan's obscene cost.  Just buy the puck kit for $30-ish and install yourself.  They come with a toggle switch you can opt to install.  Mount it behind the front edge of a cabinet and run them in line.  Then run the power cord up between two cabinets, drill a hole in the top of the one over the micro.  Cut the end off and hook up a 90degree plug.  Then just plug it in to the microwave outlet and you're good to go.
Note-if you pay for a switched outlet to be put in a cabinet, you can have a wall switch and skip the toggle.
-Have a dog or plan to get one?  Put a 1" PVC pipe down below the driveway when they pour concrete.  I have one so that I can run a underground dog fence through it and not deal with a concrete saw.  Consider the size of pipe.  Running a sprinkler line through would work too.  Depending on your layout, running one under the walkway would be smart too.
Update-dog fence installers can just as easily use a concrete saw and caulk at a joint.  But if I ever run a water line....the pipe is there for me. 
-Mount a TV on the wall in a room?  Screw in some chunks of 2x6 between some studs pre-drywall.  Makes screwing brackets in a breeze not having to find a stud.
-Second floor laundry?  Get the dryer exhaust vent put high enough to hook up AFTER you have pushed the dryer in place.  Trust me on this one.
-Second floor laundry part II, screw some chucks of 2x6 or 2x8 between the joists under the washer.  We have dealt with the "high speed shakes"and finally minimized it by removing the pedestal, adding anti-vibe feet and pushing pieces of those foam pool tubes between the washer and wall/dryer.
NOTE: I don't know if this will help or not, but it can't hurt can it?
-CONSIDER LIGHT SWITCH PLACEMENT.  I like the idea of the garage coach lights operated from front door.  Many have chosen to get the garage interior light switched INSIDE house.  Some even prefer the basement light switch at the top of the stairs.
-Hose bibs.  You get two at the plumbers discretion.  I advise you hammer your PM for specific locations desired.  I would also consider getting a third or fourth as well.  You have four sides of your house with grass all around.  Seems getting four hose bibs would have been brilliant.
-plan to put a laundry tub in the garage.  But one could have considered paying for the plumbing outlets and drain roughed in.
-I have heard of some getting a drain in the garage.  Seems like a good idea
-HUGE TIP....Work a deal with the concrete guys to push the width of the driveway to the edges of the garage (approx. and additional 2' on each side).  We paid $300 on the side to the concrete guys to do this.  I cannot explain how great that additional 2' on each side is.  

more ideas added from comments in the past.
 - On the kitchen island, depending on your model, you may be able to move the island over and extend the countertop to give your family additional seating in the kitchen. Costs a little extra, but definitely something I wanted.
- 6" higher master closet shelf run to help make space for a 2nd lower course of shelving 

If you have more, add them in comments.

Good luck and remember two things:
1. It never hurts to ask
2. Persistence wears down resistance.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ravenna Owners unite! An idea is born for the foyer!

We are now 13 months into our new Ravenna.  I still love it.
Shortly after moving in, I built two picture ledges (found at  I liked them but always felt there was better use for this 7+ foot wall then two picture ledges.  Not to mention, where the hell do we put jackets, hats, and what not when walking in the front door.  Or for guest's stuff.
I found this on Pinterest....yeah yeah yeah, I peruse Pinterest.  Ran it by the wife and she likey.  So I jumped on it.

I originally planned on 6 hooks, BUT 16" O.C. studs don't line up right if I wanted to hide the mounting screws BEHIND the hooks.  So 5 hooks it is.  We may add more down the road, time will tell.  I can say that 5 hooks works nice without having coats "stacked" on each other.

Again, sorry for the bad pics.  A photographer I'm not.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Remember me? I re-finished a Magnavox AstroTuner

I know it's been awhile.  Many new people have come, and some old favorites are still around.  My friend ( is still busy knocking out big improvements in his Ravenna and blogging about it.  Being slightly competitive in nature, I decided it was time to knock out something of my own I can wow you with.
Behold, a cedar planter.....
I decided we needed something to flank the garage door and add curb appeal.  The whole thing is out of cedar except the legs.  Those are 2x2 pine stained to a cedar tint. 

If you like, I sell them as well.  email if you are interested.

But wait, there's more.....

Several months ago, I scored a 60's Magnavox Astrotuner.  A co-worker bought his grandfather's house and wanted to pitch it.  I can't find an original pic, but it looked close to this:
It seemed like it could be a great piece for the family room to hold the TV and components in a more stylish way then the crappy Ikea piece we have had since moving in a year back.

Tammi ( motivates me with her blog furniture projects.  I decided to jump in and try it.  Worse case scenario, I bust it into pieces and burn it with a beer in hand.

So I gutted it.  I pulled out all the old stereo, turntable, speakers, amp, etc..... in it leaving it in this state:

Then my wife went to work sanding and cleaning it.  I already had measurements and started making saw dust.  With it still in pieces, I primed it with grey tinted Gripper primer.

Then we painted it going with Benjamin Moore "Ben" paint.  Black.  Eggshell.  I applied it with a foam roller and my trusty Purdy brush.

With it painted, it was time to build "in-place" the shelf box you see in the above two pictures.  I used 3/4 MDF and a select Pine 1x2 for the shelf lip.  The sides, shelf, and lip are secured with pocket hole screws.  The top (of the box), which is unseen, is literally just sitting in place.  Then I tacked on a 1/8 hardboard cover on the back.  The very top is again, 3/4 MDF cut in roughly a 1/3 - 2/3 pattern.  You will see why here:

The space above the shelf box and below the very top is dead space I used to hide router, speaker wires, plug strip, etc...  I drilled holes in the top of the shelf box to route components plugs.  Two holes in the back to get wires in and out of.  Then I put the 2/3 size lid on and place the TV.
The 1/3 size lid, with a finger hole, allows me easy access to router and plug strip without having to remove the TV. 

 Not the greatest pictures in the world.  But you get the idea.  The bottom shelf holds the speakers.  I have also added some books, a picture, and some glass globe.  I am sure my wife will re-decorate it promptly.
The only thing left to do is add some handles to the front for the faux drawer appearance.  That one is up to the wife to find and like.  Then I will install.  But I am thinking a nice brushed nickel would be nice.
So, there you have it.  My latest project.  I am halfway through some wall boxes and will post those soon.
That is all for now.....Carry on.